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Of The Books of the New Testament, Address to the Believers in the Book Called the Scriptures

The New Testament contains twenty-seven books, of which four are called Gospels; one called the Acts of the Apostles; fourteen called the Epistles of Paul; one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; one called the Revelation.

None of those books have the appearance of being written by the persons whose names they bear, neither do we know who the authors were. They come to us on no other authority than the Church of Rome, which the Protestant Priests, especially those of New England, call the Whore of Babylon.

This church, or to use their own vulgar language, this whore, appointed sundry councils to be held, to compose creeds for the people, and to regulate Church affairs. Two of the principal of these councils were that of Nice, and of Laodicea (names of the places where the councils were held) about three hundred and fifty years after the time that Jesus is said to have lived. Before this time there was no such book as the New Testament.

But the Church could not well go on without having something to show, as the Persians showed the Zend-Avesta, revealed they say by God to Zoroaster; the Brahmins of India, the Shaster, revealed, they say, by God to Brahma, and given to him out of a dusky cloud; the Jews, the books they call the Law of Moses, given they say also out of a cloud on Mount Sinai.

The Church set about forming a code for itself out of such materials as it could find or pick up. But where they got those materials, in what language they were written, or whose handwriting they were, or whether they were originals or copies, or on what authority they stood, we know nothing of, nor does the New Testament tell us.

The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.

Of those called Gospels, above forty were presented, each contending to be genuine. Four only were voted in, and entitled: the Gospel according to St. Matthew -- the Gospel according to St. Mark -- the Gospel according to St. Luke -- the Gospel according to St. John.

This word according, shows that those books have not been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but according to some accounts or traditions, picked up concerning them. The word "according" means agreeing with, and necessarily includes the idea of two things, or two persons.

We cannot say, The Gospel written by Matthew according to Matthew, but we might say, the Gospel of some other person according to what was reported to have been the opinion of Matthew. Now we do not know who those other persons were, nor whether what they wrote accorded with anything that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John might have said. There is too little evidence, and too much contrivance, about those books to merit credit.

The next book after those called Gospels, is that called the Acts of the Apostles. This book is anonymous; neither do the councils that compiled or contrived the New Testament tell us how they came by it. The Church, to supply this defect, say it was written by Luke, which shows that the Church and its priests have not compared that called the Gospel according to St. Luke and the Acts together, for the two contradict each other.

The book of Luke, xxiv., makes Jesus ascend into heaven the very same day that it makes him rise from the grave. The book of Acts, i. 3, says that he remained on earth forty days after his crucifixion. There is no believing what either of them says.

The next to the book of Acts is that entitled, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle[1] to the Romans." This is not an Epistle, or letter, written by Paul or signed by him. It is an Epistle, or letter, written by a person who signs himself TERTIUS, and sent, as it is said in the end, by a servant woman called Phebe. The last chapter, ver. 22, says, "I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, salute you." Who Tertius or Phebe were, we know nothing of.

The epistle is not dated. The whole of it is written in the first person, and that person is Tertius, not Paul. But it suited the Church to ascribe it to Paul. There is nothing in it that is interesting except it be to contending and wrangling sectaries. The stupid metaphor of the potter and the clay is in chapter ix.

The next book is entitled "The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians." This, like the former, is not an Epistle written by Paul, nor signed by him. The conclusion of the Epistle says, "The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus."

The second epistle entitled, "The second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians," is in the same case with the first. The conclusion of it says, "It was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas."

A question may arise upon these cases, which is, are these persons the writers of the epistles originally, or are they the writers and attestors of copies sent to the councils who compiled the code or canon of the New Testament? If the epistles had been dated this question could be decided; but in either of the cases the evidences of Paul's hand writing and of their being written by him is wanting, and, therefore, there is no authority for calling them Epistles of Paul. We know not whose Epistles they were, nor whether they are genuine or forged.

The next is entitled, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to t